The forthcoming HBO show has wasted millions of dollars, abandoned its ‘feminist lens’ and been compared to a ‘rape fantasy that any toxic man would have’
The Idol, a forthcoming HBO show devised by Sam Levinson (the creator of Euphoria) and hip-hop artist The Weeknd has been the subject of an explosive expose in Rolling Stone.
The show, which is set against the backdrop of the music industry, was initially described by HBO as “[centring on] a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult, who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop idol.” It was originally conceived of as an ultimately empowering story of a woman, played by Lily-Rose Depp, who fights to reclaim her own agency in the face of a predatory industry. But that’s not quite how it turned out. According to one production member, “it went from satire to the thing it was satirising”.
According to Rolling Stone, original director Amy Seimetz departed the show when it was almost entirely finished, which led HBO to announce that it was set to have a “major creative overhaul”. There apparently was no explanation for this, but The Weeknd – the show’s co-creator – allegedly thought The Idol was heading too far into a “female perspective” and argued for the “feminist lens” to be dropped.
The production of the show ended up wasting 75 million dollars after Levinson took over as director when the show was nearly finished, scrapped everything that had been made so far and then started over from scratch. Levinson is no stranger to accusations of sexual exploitation, and sources now allege that his script contained several violent, misogynistic elements, particularly between Lily-Rose Depp and The Weekend’s character. These include a proposed, but subsequently abandoned, scene in which Rose Depp’s character carries an egg in her vagina; if she breaks or drops it, The Weekend’s character would refuse to “rape” her – which she subsequently begs him to do. As one production member told Rolling Stone, “it was like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have”.
After a disastrous, wildly expensive production, it’s unclear when the show will eventually air or what the finished product will look like. Euphoria fans are famous for enjoying the show while despising its creator. Whether they’ll be willing to overlook his behaviour this time around remains to be seen.